As has become customary with all major NASA events, the space agency is inviting the public to join the team behind the scenes and witness the historic launch of SpaceX’s astronaut-carrying capsule, Crew Dragon, right from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A total of 120 “backstage” passes will be given to members of the public who wish to travel to the launch site and experience the event first-hand, NASA announced yesterday. The invitation is extended specifically to social media users who want to be in the middle of the action and share unique content from the Crew Dragon launch on various social media platforms.
“If your passion is to communicate and engage the world via social media, then this is the event for you! Seize the opportunity to be on the front line to blog, tweet or Instagram everything about SpaceX’s uncrewed flight test of the Crew Dragon,” NASA officials said in a statement.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, this will be the first test flight of SpaceX’s next-generation astronaut pod. Dubbed Demo-1, or DM-1, the mission is an unmanned launch to the International Space Station (ISS) to test the spacecraft’s capabilities ahead of putting astronauts on board the Crew Dragon next summer.
“SpaceX’s Demo-1 will provide key data associated with the ground, integrated rocket and spacecraft, and autonomous docking systems, and the landing profile ahead of the company’s flight test with astronauts, known as Demo-2,” NASA explained in a blog post
The spacecraft will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off from the Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Once Crew Dragon reached the ISS, it will remain docked with the space station for a few weeks before returning to Earth.
Initially scheduled for January 7, the launch has been pushed back 10 days and is currently targeting January 17 as liftoff date. The NASA Social Event that covers the Crew Dragon launch is hosted for a period of two days — between January 16 and 17 — during which time the lucky recipients of the 120 backstage passes “will be given access similar to news media,” noted the space agency.
This will enable the chosen members of the public to tour the NASA facilities at Kennedy Space Center, interview SpaceX and NASA representatives, and photograph the Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon capsule on the launch pad.
JUST ANNOUNCED! A #NASASocial event in Jan. where you can:
— NASA (@NASA) December 14, 2018
Just like Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, which is expected to take to space on its first test flight in March, the SpaceX Crew Dragon was designed to propel U.S. spaceflight into a new era. Developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, both spacecraft aim to once again launch astronauts from American soil, resuming U.S-based spaceflights for the first time since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011.
The change of the Crew Dragon launch date was announced last week, in the same NASA blog.
“We are not driven by dates, but by data,” Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said at the time. “Ultimately, we’ll fly SpaceX Demo-1 at the right time, so we get the right data back to support the in-flight abort test and the next test flight when our astronauts are aboard.”